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Kirby Wilkerson

1/30/2024

continental drift 1/22/24 - the philippines

Welcome to Continental Drift, folks! In this episode, we’re gonna foray into the Philippines! You can find the playlist here and listen to the episode here!

The Republic of the Philippines is an island country in Southeast Asia. An archipelago comprising 7,641 islands, its capital is Manila, and with a population of 110 million, it is the 12th most populous country and 7th most populous country in Asia. The official languages are English and Filipino (which is the standardized version of a language called Tagalog), but aside from those 2 languages there are 17 other languages recognized in different administrative regions throughout the country.

In discussing the music of the Philippines, it’s important to note that for most of the past 500 years (from 1565 to 1946), the Philippines were occupied by imperial powers, namely Spain and then, later, the United States. During this time period, the music of the colonizing countries exercised heavy influence on the types of music Filipinos found themselves playing, writing, and experiencing from day to day. So musicologists tend to break Filipino music into 3 major categories based on their primary influences: indigenous music, Spanish-influenced music, and American-influenced music. These aren’t the only 3 categories, but that breakdown is more or less how this episode is going to be structured.

Indigenous/Folk Music

Ka-singkil // Fiesta Filipina

  • Kulintang (percussion ensemble involving drums and melodic gongs)

Maglalatik // Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company

  • Indigenous dance form (young man with coconuts attached to hands striking each other)

Tinikling // Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company

  • Indigenous dance form (giant stalks of bamboo used as percussion)

Sa Ugoy ng Duyan // CCP

  • Well-known Filipino lullaby about a person who wants nothing more than to hear their mother sing to them like she did when they were a kid. Very touching, ethereally beautiful song.

Jocelynang Baliwag // Fiona De Vos

  • Kundiman is a genre of love songs; though on the surface this is about a lover, and indeed this song was originally written about a real woman the author courted, this song was dubbed the “Kundiman of the Revolution” in 1941, and became a sort of allegory for the indigenous people of the islands longing for sovereignty over the Philippines; I don’t know if this was in response to US occupation (which ended in 1946) or Japanese occupation of the Philippines (which was happening during WW2 starting in 1941).

Spanish-Influence Music

Cariñosa // Pilita Corrales

  • Dance form introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish

Serenade for Strings (Waltzer) // Celso Espejo Rondalla

  • String ensemble music with roots in Spanish folk music 

Harana // Parokya Ni Edgar

  • A harana is a serenade in Filipino courtship practices; usually a guy will pull up to the window of his beloved, sometimes with his friends as backup singers. This song’s funny because of how self-referential it is; the singer fully owns how silly he must look serenading, but he doesn’t care because he’ll gladly make a fool of himself for his love.

Hanggang Kailan - Umuwi Ka Na Baby // Orange & Lemons

  • I’ve seen this called a harana but YMMV on that one; I’m still counting it as such because lyrically it’s a serenade, a song where the singer is very painfully and clearly longing for his lover. Literally the title translates to "come back home, baby".

American-Influence Music + Things That Sorta Count As This

Killer Joe // The Rocky Fellers

  • This song charted at 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United State back in ‘63. It has very strong Motown vibes, which just sort of goes to show the extent of influence the US had on the Philippines by this point, even well after the latter had gained their independence.

Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko // Hotdog

  • The title translates to “The Miss Universe of My Life” which I think is really cute so I was like "sure, pile it on".

Anak // Freddie Aguilar

  • This is the best-selling Filipino song of all time; it’s an apology from the composer to his parents after he ran away from home at age 18. The story behind it is incredibly emotionally intimate.

Bayan Ko // Freddie Aguilar

  • This was a popular anthem of the People Power Revolution, which ended Ferdinand Marcos’ oppressive 21-year dictatorship in the Philippines.

Songs I Wanna Play Because I Have The Time

Di Naging (Tayo) // Sleep Alley

Huwag Kang Matakot // Eraserheads